Commuter Miami Beach ferry service set to cross the bay
After nearly two years of negotiations as well as setbacks related to Covid-19, Poseidon Ferry is to begin cross-bay commuter services between downtown Miami and Miami Beach on Nov. 29.
“The waterborne transportation project to utilize Biscayne Bay for passenger transportation has been years in the making,” said Poseidon CEO Johnathan Silvia, “and we are thrilled to be launching it and bringing these services to the residents of Miami-Dade. It’s been a really good collaborative effort to get this going. The county and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach really understand the need for this, and all stakeholders have had the public interest in the forefront.”
Poseidon’s commuter service is to begin with hourly trips between Miami and Miami Beach, expanding to 20-minute intervals as ridership grows. On the downtown Miami side, the vessel will dock on the Miami River Bay Walk, directly outside the river entrance to the James L. Knight Convention Center/Hyatt Regency Hotel, with parking available at the convention center’s parking garage, 200 SE Second Ave. Tickets can be purchased at a ticket window in the Hyatt’s lobby or onboard the vessel.
In Miami Beach, the vessel will arrive and depart from the south side of the Bentley Bay Marina, 520 West Ave., with parking available at nearby public lots. Tickets are available both inside the ticket office and onboard.
The price of a one-way ticket for the 16-minute commute is $3. Weekly 10-Trip Hopper and monthly 40-Trip Hopper ticket packages are available. Florida residents, seniors, military personnel and passengers with disabilities can ride at discounted rates on individual trips; children 12 and under ride free.
Pricing had been a stumbling block in earlier proposals for waterborne transportation options, said Irene Hegedus, chief of transportation enhancements for the county’s Department of Transportation & Public Works, who worked with Mr. Silvia and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach throughout the project.
“Poseidon’s $3 fare is comparable to the current $2.65 fare for Metrobus,” she said. “And it’s 100% privately funded, so there is no cost to the taxpayer.”
Passengers can also benefit, Mr. Silvia said, from Poseidon’s partnership with Velocia, a free mobility app that rewards commuters for using public transit.
The current Poseidon Ferry is a 65-foot 2012 Scarano Catamaran Ferry with a passenger capacity of 149. It features a fully climate-controlled interior, full galley, restrooms, television and free onboard wi-fi.
For the duration of the pandemic, Mr. Silvia said, capacity is limited to 50% of the vessel’s overall capacity. Masks are mandatory for all staff and passengers, and staffers must submit to daily screenings before reporting to duty.
All high-touch surfaces and restrooms are to be disinfected after each trip as well as while underway when needed, and high intensity fog sanitizing will be done nightly, both onboard and in ticket offices. Hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the vessel and within the offices. Passenger queuing lines are set up for social distancing.
Mr. Silvia said he has been working with naval architects and shipyards to design high-speed ferries custom made to navigate Biscayne Bay’s shallow waters, pass under the drawbridges without the necessity of raising them and preserve the safety of manatees, sea grass and natural resources. He said he expects delivery of two of the new vessels in 18 to 20 months.
“Then we’ll look at opening up two new routes,” he said, “north to Haulover Beach and south to Black Point Marina in South Dade.
“We also plan to bring in another charter vessel until the new boats come on line – possibly in January.”
Poseidon Ferry plans to defray maintenance expenses and keep fares affordable for weekday commuters with a series of special events, Mr. Silvia said. The first, a Music Cruise scheduled for Nov. 6, generated a good response, he said, but had to be rescheduled after that plan was blown out of the water by Hurricane Eta. Themed Music Nights are scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings; Sailing with Santa is set for Dec. 20, with a New Year’s Eve gala following on Dec. 31. Space will be limited due to pandemic restrictions.